Friday, September 24, 2004
Via Cursor: Talk about your sweet rackets. We have long understood that, to date, each redward shift of the terror-alert spectrum has been timed to help President Bush in the polls by shoring up his support among the members of that pivotal demographic, the gullible-&-undecided. But until we saw this item from the Congressional Quarterly we had not realized that, with every little spike in the national anxiety level, the man who coordinates the colors is fattening his portfolio:
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge had investments last year in a number of companies with contracts with his department and others who want to profit from homeland security, a new list of his assets shows.The gentleman who spewed out the abovementioned expletives is plainly operating under an outmoded paradigm, for -- as we learn anew each day -- the appearance of impropriety is of no concern when impropriety itself is of no concern. You think Caesar's wife is a ten-dollar hooker? Go right ahead. Caesar is beyond the reach of your puny morality; he rules by divine fiat. Why should Caesar care what you think, you insignificant plebe?
Ridge, a former Pennsylvania Republican congressman and governor appointed by President Bush in 2001 to run the nation’s homeland security effort, held assets valued from $100,000 to $815,000 last year, according to information he supplied in a filing with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics. The Department of Homeland Security’s general counsel eventually must approve the filing . . . .
In response to a late afternoon telephone inquiry, DHS spokesman Brian Roehrkasse first said the department did not have enough time to answer questions about the disclosure form. Pressed further, he shouted an expletive to a reporter and hung up.
Later, in a second telephone conversation, Roehrkasse said, “I don’t know where we are in the process. I don’t know . . . I can’t validate any information you’ve got,” and repeated a string of expletives.
Later, Roehrkasse called back to say that he had spoken to the department’s general counsel’s office, which has not yet signed off on the disclosure report.
“They are going to continue to work through a couple procedural issues on the form,” he said. “However, there are no conflicts of interest.”
Bill Allison, managing editor for the Center for Public Integrity, a government watchdog organization, said the contents of the report warranted scrutiny.
“Not having those investments in a blind trust, still having stock in companies that do business with the agency — that creates an appearance of conflict of interest,” Allison said.
In a section of the disclosure form asking, “Do you Intend to Create a Qualified Diversified Trust?” Ridge checked “no.”